River Cats strike early to sink 51s

The 51s started fast this season, winning six of their first seven games, but they’ve since come to a screeching halt after dropping three of four games to three-time defending division champion Sacramento at Cashman Field.

The River Cats set season highs in hits (17) and runs for the second time in three days Tuesday in a wind-swept 15-6 victory over Las Vegas, which fell to 10-10.

Jack Cust went 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs, and Josh Donaldson went 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs for the River Cats (10-10), who led 9-0 after two innings.

Las Vegas starter Lance Broadway (0-2) gave up 12 runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings, struck out two and walked four as his ERA rose from 2.30 to 7.20.

The 51s had only three pitchers available for the game after two of their relievers — Josh Roenicke and Rommie Lewis — were called up Monday by the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We had to try to get some innings out of him (Broadway). If we don’t do that, we’ve got a position player pitching the last two or three innings,” 51s manager Dan Rohn said. “He sucked it up for the club. He didn’t have his good stuff. The first two innings he was up in the zone, and you can’t do that in these kinds of games.

“With that wind blowing out 100 mph, it’s tough to pitch.”

Sacramento starter Clayton Mortensen (3-1) allowed six runs on nine hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one.

Right fielder Michael Taylor went 3-for-5 with two triples, two RBIs and two runs for the River Cats, and left fielder Corey Wimberly went 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs.

Michael Affronti and Corey Brown each added two hits, an RBI and two runs for Sacramento, which snapped a six-game skid Saturday in a 2-1 win over the 51s in the series opener and also won 6-5 on Monday. Las Vegas salvaged its lone win of the series Sunday in a wild 14-11 victory that was decided by Brain Dopirak’s pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth inning.

“A lot of things went wrong in this series. It was a pretty ugly series on our side,” Rohn said. “They’ve got a good ballclub, and we’ve got to play good baseball to beat them, but we haven’t done that the last four days.”

Catcher J.P. Arencibia went 3-for-4 with a homer, shortstop Jesus Merchan had three hits, and right fielder Chris Lubanski had a two-run homer for Las Vegas.

“We’ve got some kids who can play in the big leagues, but they’ve got to learn how to make adjustments,” Rohn said. “They’re not going to get a fastball every time up.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at or 702-383-0354.

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